The correlation between Arctic sea ice, cloud phase and radiation using A-train satellites
Abstract. Climate warming has a stronger impact on Arctic climate and sea ice cover (SIC) decline than previously thought. Better understanding and characterizing the relationship between sea ice, clouds and the implications for surface radiation is key to improving our confidence in Arctic climate projections. Here we analyze the relationship between sea ice, cloud phase and surface radiation over the Arctic, defined as north of 60° N, using active- and passive-sensor satellite observations from three different datasets. We find that all datasets agree on the climatology and seasonal variability of total and liquid-bearing (liquid and mixed-phase) cloud covers. Similarly, our results show a robust relationship between decreased SIC and increased liquid-bearing clouds in the lowest levels (below 3 km) for all seasons but summer, while increased SIC and ice clouds are positively correlated in two of the three datasets. A refined spatial correlation analysis indicates that the relationship between SIC and liquid-bearing clouds can change sign over the Bering, Barent and Laptev seas, likely because of intrusions of warm air from low latitudes during winter and spring. Finally, the increase of liquid clouds resulting from decreasing SIC is associated with enhanced radiative cooling at the surface, which should contribute to dampening future Arctic surface warming as SIC continues to decline.
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